Legendary college basketball broadcaster Billy Packer died Thursday at the age of 82 after calling 34 quarterfinals during his career.
For 18 of those years, Packer worked alongside expert Jim Nantz.
Nantz, who will call your last final four in Houston, Texas, in April, he paid tribute to his friend and colleague on Friday.
BILLY PACKER, VOICE OF THE FINAL FOUR AND LEGENDARY COLLEGE BASKETBALL ANNOUNCER, DEAD AT 82
“I think Billy will go down in history as one of the greatest analysts in the history of sports television. I think when you start looking at the pantheon of great analysts, you have john madden and you have Billy Packer. And you start right there.» nantz said friday on «CBS Mornings».
“He blessed this network for a long time, from 1982 until he retired in 2008. One of my dearest friends. It’s been a restless night thinking about the family, the Packer family, to whom I am very close. I have to talk to Billy the day before he died and tell him that he loved him.
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«He was a genius. There was no one who could just look at the field, in this case, look at the court, and see everything. He’s going to be sorely missed, but he loved college basketball and he took care of it.» as guardian of this sport. And he is just a giant. And a giant heart, that’s all I can tell you.»
Nantz said his friend’s «greatest realization» was as a husband caring for his wife as she dealt with health issues for the last 15 to 20 years of her life.
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Packer died of kidney failure after spending the last three weeks in a Charlotte hospital, according to The Associated Press.
Packer was inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 after calling every Final Four from 1975 to 2008.
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«He really enjoyed doing the Final Four,» Packer’s son, Mark Packer, told the AP. «He got the timing right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy for him. And then college basketball took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans going crazy for March Madness.»
Packer began his television career in 1974 when he joined NBC, then moved to CBS in 1981.